Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grandfather of Andre Jerome -- Jean-Baptiste Letendre

LETENDRE, dit Batoche, JEAN-BAPTISTE (also known as Okimawaskawikinam), fur trader and farmer; b. 30 Aug. 1762 in Sorel (Que.), son of Jean-Baptiste Letendre (1736–1809) and Marie-Madeleine Cardin, dit Loiseau (1742–1808); m. c. 1785 à la façon du pays Josephte “Crise,” a member of the Cree nation, in the northwest; d. in or after 1827, probably in St Boniface (Man.).
Jean-Baptiste Letendre, dit Batoche, came to the northwest in the 1780s. In 178586 he was employed by the North West Company in the Athabasca department as a “devant” or bowsman. He is listed as an interpreter in the region of Fort des Prairies (Fort-à-la-Corne, Sask.) in 1804. Marie-Anne Gaboury* and Jean-Baptiste Lagimonière*, who spent some time in the area in 1808, are reported to have met the Canadian Batoche and his Cree family. In 1810 Letendre or his son, who was also called Jean-Baptiste, was with the explorer David Thompson*. In his diary Thompson mentions that Letendre and his family arrived from the region near Beaverhill Lake (Alta), bringing a hundred or so beaver pelts. That year Letendre or his son went with Thompson to explore the Athabasca River as far as the Rockies but quit the expedition in January 1811 at the camp on the Canoe River (B.C.), a tributary of the Columbia.
In the 1810s and 1820s it appears that Letendre engaged in the fur trade on his own account as a “freeman,” to use an expression common in the northwest. Alone or with his family he owned a trading post called Batoche at Muskootao Point, west of Fort-à-la-Corne on the north bank of the Saskatchewan. The Letendres also stayed for a time in the Red River colony (Man.) during this period. On 19 June 1816 one of their sons was killed in the engagement at Seven Oaks (Winnipeg), known in historical writings by the Métis and French of the west as La Grenouillère [see Cuthbert Grant*; Robert Semple*]. The NWC agreed to pay Mme Letendre compensation for this unfortunate accident because of the “good character her husband always bore.”
Around 1825 the Letendres came from Rocky Mountain House (Alta), known by francophones as “poste de la montagne de Roches,” to settle at St Boniface. On 6 June of that year Letendre’s sons Jean-Baptiste and Louis (Louison) and his daughters Josephte and Angélique were married in religious ceremonies. In 1827 Letendre, his wife, and eight children were living on lot 906. Two of their sons occupied land near by with their families. Letendre was a well-to-do farmer, but he was keeping a family of 40. He owned seven horses, a herd of cattle, a canoe, and two carts. It is worth noting that he was farming 50 acres at a time when even the Catholic mission only cultivated 25.
No trace of Letendre has been found after 1827. He is not listed as head of a household or owner of a lot in the 1828 census, or in those that followed. His son Jean-Baptiste settled at Pembina (N.Dak.) around 1850. As for Louis, he made regular trips to the Fourche des Gros Ventres (as the South Saskatchewan River was known) and the post called La Montée on the North Saskatchewan. In 1849 he was one of the Métis who protested against the HBC’s fur-trade monopoly, at the time of the Sayer affair [see Pierre-Guillaume Sayer*]. The Letendre family carried on business both on its own account and for the HBC in the area around Fort Canton (Sask.) in the 1850s and 1860s and settled permanently in that region around 1870. In 1872 Jean-Baptiste’s grandson François-Xavier founded the village of Batoche on the South Saskatchewan River. It was Batoche that became the centre of Métis resistance in 1885 and the Métis capital of the northwest.

Diane Paulette Payment, “LETENDRE, Batoche, JEAN-BAPTISTE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 12, 2014,

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